Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Historical Society scrambles to reprint naturalist's book about early Dunedin life

DUNEDIN — Beetles and crickets. Streets lined with wooden planks and sand. A Native American burial mound.

Sounds like a game where you identify which item doesn't belong, right? Wrong. These were all sights common in Dunedin during the early 1900s.

The Dunedin Historical Society wants to make sure that history is preserved by reprinting My Nature Nook by renowned naturalist Dr. Willis Stanley Blatchley. The book was named for a viewing platform built in an old live oak tree on Blatchley's Dunedin waterfront property. He sat in the nook and recorded his daily observations.

The historical society decided to reprint the book after a feverish 18-month search by members turned up only a single copy to add to the society's handful of originals.

"This is the only personal narrative in diary form of life in Dunedin in the early 1900s," said George Nigro, a Dunedin Historical Society board member and project manager. "It deserves to be saved from the dustbins of history."

My Nature Nook is one of more than a dozen books written by Blatchley, a former Indiana geologist and snowbird who in 1913 started documenting events, sights and sounds he encountered during 18 winters here.

Among the most interesting entries, Nigro said:

•Blatchley, skeptical of reports that hurricanes never hit Dunedin, devised a special design for support beams on his Bayshore Boulevard home, which was outside the city limits at the time.

"It was constructed so well that it actually survived the hurricanes of 1921 and 1924, one of which actually severed Caladesi Island in two," Nigro said. The house is still standing in what's now known as Weaver Park.

•When Blatchley arrived in 1913, he said the streets were covered with sand and wooden planks. The city had 1,700 residents compared to about 35,000 today.

•While the exact location of an Indian burial mound Blatchley described is unknown, historians believe it was situated within the present-day Dunedin Isles subdivision. "Somebody's house is probably sitting on top of it today," Nigro said.

To fund the effort, the cash-strapped historical society is offering 150 donors who contribute at either the $1,000 patron level or the $250 sponsor level a sequentially-numbered, leather-bound copy with his or her name inscribed inside. About 120 of the limited-edition copies remain available for purchase, Nigro said.

Others can call or visit the museum to preorder hardcover copies for $100 or paperback copies for $25.

The books will be unveiled for pickup and sale during a ceremony at the Dunedin Public Library Sunday. The event will feature a presentation on Blatchley's life, an interview with Dunedin Vice Mayor and Blatchley impersonator Ron Barnette, and a talk about the reprinting project.

The City Commission last month unanimously approved dedicating $1,000 of the commission budget to a patron-level contribution. The city will receive Book No. 1, which City Manager Rob DiSpirito said will be available to the public at the library.

Keyonna Summers can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or To write a letter to the editor, go to

.if you go

Reprint on sale

What: Presentation on renowned naturalist Dr. Willis Blatchley's life, and the unveiling of his reprinted book My Nature Nook for pickup and sale.

When: 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Dunedin Public Library, 223 Douglas Ave.

Information: To preorder books or donate, call or visit the Dunedin Historical Museum, 349 Main St., at (727) 736-1176. Go online to to watch a promotional video about the book.

Historical Society scrambles to reprint naturalist's book about early Dunedin life 11/06/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 7:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals


    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  2. No lack of issues facing St. Petersburg's six council candidates


    ST. PETERSBURG — The six candidates for City Council gathered Monday evening in the very chamber to which they aspire to serve.

    St. Petersburg City Council candidates (from left)  Brandi Gabbard and Barclay Harless in District 2; Jerick Johnston and incumbent council member Darden Rice in District 4; and Justin Bean and Gina Driscoll of District 6. All six candidates appeared at Monday night's forum at City Hall sponsored by the League of Women Voters. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]

  3. Iraq's Kurds vote on independence, raising regional fears


    IRBIL, Iraq — Iraqi Kurds voted Monday in a landmark referendum on supporting independence, a move billed by the Kurdish leadership as an exercise in self-determination but viewed as a hostile act by Iraq's central government. Neighboring Turkey even threatened a military response.

    People celebrate Monday after voting closed in a referendum on independence in Irbil, Iraq.
  4. North Korean diplomat says Trump has 'declared war'


    UNITED NATIONS — North Korea's top diplomat said Monday that President Donald Trump's weekend tweet was a "declaration of war" and North Korea has the right to retaliate by shooting down U.S. bombers, even in international airspace.

    North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, center, speaks outside the U.N. Plaza Hotel in New York on Monday.
  5. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]